Rangers swept aside Queen’s Park in the Glasgow Cup with a Zak Rudden hat-trick inspiring them to a relaxed 6-0 victory. It took Rudden and Rangers just seven minutes to open the scoring and they never looked back from there, with their goalkeeper Billy Kinnear a virtual spectator throughout. The impressive Daniel Finlayson added to an assured and confident performance at the back by getting the second, with Matifadza Zata and Matthew Shiels ensuring that victory was beyond doubt before the half-time whistle. Rudden completed his hat-trick with goals at the start and end of the second half to put some extra gloss on the scoreline.
The opening five minutes gave no indication of the whitewash to follow as both teams probed one another and had a corner apiece, but it didn’t take long before an individual piece of brilliance from Rudden set Rangers on their way.
Skilfully cutting inside down the right, he danced along the by-line, using stepovers to twist and turn between three defender before beating Elliot Anderson at his near post with a fierce shot.
Credit to Queen’s Park, they didn’t let their heads drop at the first sign of trouble and carved out what would be their best opportunity of the match in response. A throw-in down the left hand side went to Ronan McLaughlin who held play up and set-up Declan Walsh on the edge of the penalty box for an effort that looked destined for the far top corner before curling away at the last moment.
Having only narrowly been beaten 2-1 by Rangers earlier in the season, Queen’s would have felt they were capable of getting back into this but it proved to be a costly miss as Rangers began to impress their superiority on the visitors, with Billy Gilmour forcing Anderson into a good save with his legs. The resulting corner should have put Rangers two ahead but Finlayson’s header went just wide.
Even at this early stage, centre back Finlayson looked a tough prospect for Queen’s Park to bypass. A good reader of the game, he was quick to intercept their forward passes and strong in the tackle if it came to it. Although not wearing the captain’s armband, he was talkative, marshalling his teammates, and organising those in front of him.
He was also proving a serious danger from set-pieces and if he improved his heading accuracy he could easily have grabbed three or four goals for himself in this match. As it was he gave Rangers some breathing space by scoring the second from close range. Rudden took a short corner with Gilmour whose shot from the corner of the penalty box looked to be heading in but Finlayson made sure by nodding home under pressure.
Much like the Rangers first team, their u17s played a fluid 4-3-3 formation with Rudden the tip of the spear and Zata and Shiels down the flanks around him but willing to swap sides or drop deeper as the supporting Gilmour and Cameron Palmer came forward.
Zata was the quietest of the front three in the first half but he lit the game up with a magnificent curling effort into the top corner just after the half hour mark. Anderson was at full stretch on the dive but could do nothing about it.
It was hard to see a way back for Queen’s Park from three down and it would have been worse were it not for the heroics of Lewis Magee. The Queen’s captain was proving his worth with a series of important tackles and blocks at the back as Rangers poured forward. Both Rudden and Zata were denied almost certain goals thanks to the intervention of Magee.
Queen’s thought they’d found a lifeline when Andy McLaughlin put the ball in the back of the net but he was ruled offside. Rangers would then also see the linesman’s flag deny them a goal when Shiels looked to be scoring after great skill from Gilmour, only for Zata to be penalised for trying to steal what already looked like a certain goal. It was a half of contrasts for Zata who showed flashes of brilliance and madness in equal parts.
There was nothing but brilliance from Rudden however and he played a major part in the final move of the half, delightfully dummying a through ball, taking out the defence and allowing Shiels to get through one-on-one and finish through Anderson’s legs.